Heavy Metal in Africa

A Togolese heavy metal group is making itself known. Heavy metal is associated more with White audiences in the U.S. and even has an association with White supremacy. But why? It’s all music and these talented young guys have actually wedded their traditional music with heavy metal.
Of course, heavy metal is a style or genre, not a tradition. Its tradition is American Rock ‘n Roll, which, ironically, gets its origins from the music of the Black church whose worship style goes back to the possession cults of West African. The Ewe in particular (also known as Fon or Fongbe) contributed greatly to the music of Haitin as well as to its religion. The term in English, Voodoo, which we eschew because of its associations with Hollywood horror films, comes from the Ewe word vodu, meaning spirits.
What I find intriguing is the way the quintessential element of Ewe and West Africa music overall, the gangokui or ‘cow bell’, figures so prominently in the music. It is the core of the music, not the decoration so many in the West cast it as. Everyone plays off that bell pattern.
Give it a listen here on Afro-Pop: https://afropop.org/articles/arkan-the-only-heavy-metal-band-in-togo

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